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This Week at Café

February 22nd, 2009
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… Paul Jackson Jr.'s in the spotlight with Lay It Back. There'll be three great tracks from that release and those are cued for the showcase feature. Be sure to stay with us in hour 2 for Fresh Trax with all the latest and best in new music. Headlining this edition are Boney James & Gregg Karukas; also appearing - Eric Essix and Pieces of a Dream, while debuting we have keyboardist Cecil Ramirez. Then a bit later in the hour, there's a retro set - this time featuring Denny Jiosa, Lou Bartolomucci and Tony Carlucci as Amarosa, as well as Pamela Williams and Joe McBride - otherwise there's a glitzy collection with the likes of Alan Hewitt, Dan Siegel, and The Bahama Soul Club. But to begin we're zippin' back to '97 and Playing It Cool for a track from Joyce Cooling!
In This Issue:

Lay It Back - Paul Jackson Jr.

Hold On Tight - Boney James
Falling Through Time - Cecil Ramirez
Manhattan - Gregg Karukas
Miles Away - Eric Essix
Soul Intent - Pieces of a Dream

Special Feature - Drive Time

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Showcase CD
Lay It Back - Paul Jackson Jr.:

Although he started his professional career in acting when he was just six, it was music that Paul Jackson Jr.'s real love. Early on, he switched from piano to guitar and started playing seriously when he was 12. He took to studio work in his teens thru the help of his instructor, Gary Bell, who would recommend him for various gigs, and by 15, he'd made the decision to make music his career. After majoring in music at USC, Paul's neighbour and long time mentor, Patrice Rushen, introduced Jackson around and it wasn't too long before Jackson became established as a first call sessionist. Subsequently Jackson's studio career took flight and he's now taken part in well over a thousand sessions; becoming as some put it, "the most recorded and requested guitarist in the world". The word on the street is that regardless of the style, Paul can make it sound just a little bit sweeter. His credits include Michael Jackson's Thriller as well as playing with everyone from Madonna to Celine Dion - in all he's appeared on the projects that have sold somewhere around 90 million copies!

Paul Jackson Jr. - Lay It Back
Additionally, Jackson has played on more than a dozen soundtracks for film and TV; regularly he can been seen as part of the house band on American Idol, while other high profile gigs include the Grammy's and the NAACP Image Awards. On the solo front, Jackson's own '88 debut was nominated for a Grammy while his previous release, Still Small Voice, scored a #1 single at smooth jazz radio. It's been 6 years between, but with Lay It Back, now cd lucky #7 for Jackson, he literally picks up where he left off delivering another diverse yet cohesive performance! It's with pleasure then that we ease Lay It Back and Paul Jackson Jr. into the showcase spotlight! We've chosen a compliment of three standout selections - beginning with Bay Shore Drive, upon which Jackson displays a style that's warm, fluid, and utterly tasty!
Paul Jackson Jr. - Smilin' and Profilin'Paul Jackson Jr. - Smilin' and Profilin'
Courtesy of
Having worked on the album over the course of 18 months, Jackson thoughtfully dedicates the project to the memory of his grandmother and the late great Luther Vandross - in keeping with which, the heartfelt Ballad for Uncle Ronnie is for 'Uncle Ronnie' Vandross. A personal favourite on the disc, this track poignantly opens hour 2! Meanwhile, Lucy The Cat co-penned by Jeff Lorber, attests to Jackson's dexterity, as well as his adeptness at exacting the absolute most out of every note that he plays! With shades of R&B, jazz, pop & blues thruout, PJ Jr. does indeed "lay it back" on an album that is clearly a signpost in a lengthy and illustrious career!

CD: Lay It Back (2008)
Label: Branch Records Inc.
Site: Paul Jackson Jr.

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Fresh Trax: Part One
Boney James - Send One Your Love
Hold On Tight - Boney James:
Boney James got his big break touring with Morris Day as a keyboard player while later he gigged with Bobby Caldwell and Randy Crawford. Ultimately, the diminishing challenges of work as a sideman, resulted in the release of his solo debut in '92. Now firmly established as a favourite in the genre, Boney made his debut at #1 on Billboard with his latest project and 12th overall. From that release entitled Send One Your Love we have some seriously sensuous grooves in the track Hold On Tight! Boney James Then & Now Feature Ed #463 - December 16th, 2007

CD: Send One Your Love (2009)
Label: Concord Music Group
Site: Boney James ; BJ/Concord
Cecil Ramirez - Talk To The Hand
Falling Through Time - Cecil Ramirez:
Having started piano when he was five, Cecil Ramirez has lived on both coast in the USA as part of a military family, as well as in the Caribbean. It was during his high school years in Puerto Rico that Cecil began to develop a direction in music and when was 16, he was admitted to the conservatory at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. While in college Ramirez and a few buddies put together a band called Pacific Crossing; boasting a full rhythm and horn section, they played the Napa Valley before hitting the Reno-Tahoe-Vegas casino circuit. Coming off the road, Ramirez worked in several studios, while gigging on weekends with a band called Matches. Recently deciding to try his hand at a solo release, Talk to the Hand is his highly impressive debut. From that effort, we've selected the elegant Falling Thru Time!

CD: Talk To The Hand (2008)
Label: ILP Music
Site: Cecil Ramirez

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Fresh Trax: Part Two
Gregg Karukas - GK
Manhattan - Gregg Karukas:
With a guest list, that includes Rick Braun, Paul Brown, Russ Freeman, Jessy J., Michael O'Neill, Michael Paulo, and Ricardo Silveira among others, Gregg Karukas's GK release is easily shaping up to be one of the most anticipated projects in 2009. The effort is now the 11th from Mr. Karukas who has a welcome habit of issuing some of the most tasty and well-crafted musical selections in the genre. In fact, in a solo career that stretches back to 1987, we have included no less than four of Gregg's album as part of our essential listing list! Now if the lead single Manhattan is any indication of what's in store for all of GK's eager fans, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see this number increase in the very near future! Gregg Karukas Then & Now Spotlighted Ed #487 - February 19th, 2006

CD: GK (2009)
Label: Trippin 'n Rhythm Records
Site: Gregg Karukas
Eric Essix - Birmingham
Miles Away - Eric Essix:
Having grown up in Birmingham during the 60's, Eric Essix has come full circle in a sense since that is also the name of his latest release. Early on Essix sang a bit of gospel in the church choir, but after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, he taught himself how to play by listening to Stevie Wonder, The Jacksons, and Al Green. Wes Montgomery was his first exposure to jazz while later Essix tasted psychedelia thru the music of Jimi Hendrix. It was in '77 during a Weather Report concert, that Essix determined instrumental music would be his course in life. He played the club circuit with a band called Souvenir for three years before recording First Impressions, his solo debut in 1988. Following a sophomore effort that yielded a pair of hits on the national level, Essix enrolled at Berklee in Boston and subsequent to graduating in '93, he toured solidly for a couple of years while continuing to record. Birmingham is now record #13 from Mr. Essix, but far from being unlucky, it provides the best glimpse yet into the man, his music, and the place he calls home!

CD: Birmingham (2008)
Label: Essential Recordings
Pieces of a Dream - Soul Intent
Soul Intent - Pieces of a Dream:
Nearly three decades after their first recordings, the founding duo behind Pieces of a Dream, claim they're going old school! Mentored by the late Grover Washington Jr., keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon emerged from the Philadelphia music scene in the late 70s. In the early 80s, they built a reputation with a trio of seminal recordings that helped define the sound of the developing contemporary format. Now Lloyd and Harmon revisit the concept of musicians working together in the studio in real time with Soul Intent, their fifth and latest release since joining the Heads Up label in 2001. While maintaining the consistently high calibre of music they've achieved over the course of their lengthy career, it's evident from the play on words they've used for the album title what their musical goal is. From that release, it's mission accomplished with the title track!

CD: Soul Intent (2009)
Label: Heads Up International
Site: Pieces ; Pieces/Concord

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After Hours ~ Exclusive to our Site and Select Affiliates :
Drive Time ... we're set to cruise on this special as every track has the word drive in its title. Selections include Bel Aire Drive, Morning Drive, and Passion Drive, with 14 hard drivin' tracks in all. Opening things is Bob Bangerter, and that's followed by Shakatak and Al Williams III as well as the bands Present Tense and The Rippingtons. Set #2 has Jeff Jarvis and continues with Vernon Neilly, Tom Braxton, and Tommy Emmanuel. While wrapping it are Doc Powell, Bobby Lyle, Michael Manson, Norman Brown, and J. Plunky Branch. So, it's time to get the motor running and head on down the highway - as we look for adventure, on this our Drive Time special

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